After endless attempts at finding local, Florida grown or sourced produce and seafood I've almost had it.
Was in NYC this weekend and dropped into Dean and Deluca. While looking through the produce I saw picture perfect meyer lemons and some not so good looking fava beans. Where were both of them from? Yep, Florida grown baby. At the fish counter what did I see? Whole pompano and skate wing. Guess from where?
I'm so sick and tired of our best local product being shipped out and almost impossible to find locally. When was the last time Publix had pompano? But I'm sure every Publix will have farm raised Chilean salmon at $5.99 a pound. And meyer lemons? Last time I saw them at a local market specializing in produce (Norman Brothers) they were imported from California. And fava beans are non-existant until spring when we get them in from the West Coast?
I've got plenty of theories, all of which tick me off. One is that growers and fisherman get more for their product if they export it out of state. To me this doesn't hold water because the lemons and beans were going for the same price as the specimens we get from California. Is it that Floridians don't care about what's growing in their own backyard and farmers don't have a choice but to export their product? Possibly. Ask your friends if they know (a) what a meyer lemon is and (b) that they're grown in Florida.
Is it because growers don't know that there's demand here for their product? The other day I was at a nursery in S. Miami and asked if they had meyer lemon trees. One of the owners said "I don't know why these things are so popular. We can't keep them in stock". This woman didn't even know why her customers wanted what they wanted. When I asked if she was getting more trees she said no, but she'd be getting tangerines, etc. (the typical citrus trees you think of).
Regardless of the reason it irks the heck outta me that we're exporting our best stuff (just like, thanks to Anthony Bourdain's economics and marketing lesson last night, Jamaica and its Blue Mountain Coffee). Don't know if anyone feels the same way. Any comments or theories?